Sun, Mar 05, 2017 - Page 6 News List

The decline of Taiwan’s military

By Peng Ming-min 彭明敏

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident, Academia Sinica associate research fellow Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深) published a book about the event, entitled The Sky Is Still Dark: Truth, Commemoration and Responsibility of the 228 Incident (天猶未光:二 二 八事件的真相、紀念與究責).

However, the academic conference where his book was released was interrupted by a group of protesters who had sneaked into the event.

The protesters ignored meeting procedures and gave out flyers, yelled insults and launched personal attacks on the speakers. Despite the host and other participants asking them to follow the rules, they continued to create a disturbance until police intervened.

This made me think of former deputy minister of national defense Lin Chong-pin (林中斌), who not long ago said in an interview with a Chinese media outlet that Beijing has deployed undercover agents in Taiwan’s military, political, economic and education agencies as well as other key organizations, adding that they could overthrow the government and paralyze the nation at any time.

Lin has always been highly respected across political lines for his trustworthiness, as he has always been well-informed and provides only correct information.

His remarks about the extent to which China has infiltrated Taiwan were shocking. Nevertheless, the fact that such a small conference could become the target of Chinese agents suggests that Lin did not exaggerate: Chinese agents are indeed everywhere and in great numbers.

This brings to mind the discipline of Taiwan’s military forces. I have met military personnel of different ranks in a variety of circumstances. Although I have only met a few, they all left a good impression on me. They were not only well-trained, quick and effective, but also well-spoken and personable.

Unfortunately, military discipline has been in rapid decline: Soldiers are spying for the enemy, are abused and commit suicide. Members of the public have been given special tours of brand-new helicopters, military have brought their helmets home and even lent them to friends, a tank fell into a creek during a drill killing four soldiers and drugs were recently found at an air base.

A group of generals visited China — still an enemy according to the Ministry of National Defense’s definition — and referred to Chinese officers as brothers, adding that they all belong to the same Chinese army.

They listened to a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and stood up in respect for the Chinese national anthem.

Their actions raise questions about whether they really respect their own president.

Apparently, for those generals, the president is just a weak woman on whom they look down and do not mind embarrassing.

One general said that if it had not been for them risking their lives to defend the nation, Taiwan would not be at peace, adding that pension reform shows that soldiers are underappreciated. However, many are wondering if these brave warriors are the reason China has not invaded, or if it is because of the US’ warning to Beijing based on its Taiwan Relations Act.

Following several decades of brainwashing focused on “recovering the mainland,” Taiwanese have been expecting their soldiers to conquer China and kill its leaders. In contrast, these soldiers are living in comfort and enjoying a carefree lifestyle. Should we be happy about that, or ashamed?

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